CHICAGO — Chicago's extinct businesses are alive and well on YouTube.
Pete Kastanes, administrator of the Facebook page "Chicago Extinct Businesses," recently released the fourth of four YouTube videos featuring photos of the city's late and great businesses. The set-to-cheesy-music videos capture, Kastanes said, "all the wonderful places that made Chicago a wonderful place."
"There are hundreds of videos about Chicago, but my videos are specialized in the businesses that were the cornerstones of making Chicago one of the best cities in the country and the world," said Kastanes, a Bogan High School graduate who grew up in South Shore, Roseland and Ashburn.
"I also wanted to create something that brings a lot of memories to the social media generation. That way, younger people could learn about the history of the city they live in now or have lived in before, and older people, like me, can go back to a simpler time."
Chicago Extinct Businesses is one of 20-plus pages Kastanes oversees. He began using Facebook as a memory trove on Aug. 20, 2012, when he created the "A Tribute to Kroozin' Music II on W 79th St Ashburn Chicago" page, which is devoted to a former record store across the street from Bogan High School on the Southwest Side. That page has a few hundred likes, while Chicago Extinct Businesses is Kastanes' most popular Facebook site with more than 12,000 followers.
His favorite places featured on the videos are the former Alexander's Steakhouse by the lakefront and Gately's People Store in Roseland.
Justin Breen says many businesses Kastanes remembers fondly:
"When I was growing up or before I was born, there was certain elegance and charm about the businesses back then that is rarely seen today," he said. "Everything now is corporate, everyone's in a rush, the mom and pop stores are virtually disappearing before our eyes."
Kastanes will continue to post old photos on his Facebook pages and likely make more YouTube videos. He's also hoping to publish a book on the city's former famous businesses.
"It would be about the South Side neighborhoods that I resided there growing up and other people's neighborhoods as well," he said. "I think it would be a lot fun if I, or other people, would remember the places, where they shopped, dined, or had their first jobs after school. It's a never-ending topic. I hope everyone would enjoy them as much I do."
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